04.09.2010 - 11.09.2010
We had been looking forward to this trip for most of the year, as it promised to be a late summer - relaxing - break. Eleven of us had booked to stay in a Gite (a French holiday house) in Monségur in the Bordeaux countryside with the aim of enjoying the French food, wine and weather. The picture below is of the 11 of us. From 12 o’clock: Dan, Jo, Faye, Laura, Diana, Shaun, Kirsty, Lauren, Cameron, Tom and Mark:
Aiming to make the most of the first day we had in Bordeaux, we set off very early from Gatwick with the aim of arriving at the Gite at around lunch time. After landing and picking up our two rental cars, we drove about an hour and found the house will little hassle. We, luckily, had invested in a sat nav (TomTom) with European maps last year so there we missed the added stress of map reading.
Upon arrival we found the cleaners were still hard at work preparing the house; we were 3 hours early for check-in. Luckily the kiwi cleaners (small world!) were almost finished and let us check-in early. The pictures below are of our amazing Gite; thanks to Laura for organising our motley crew! For anyone planning a trip to Bordeaux, or just want to check out where we stayed, the Gite’s website is: la Maison Montignac
For the remainder of the day we had our first visit to ‘Shoppi’, our local supermarket and had some delicious homemade burgers on the BBQ. That evening we commenced our routine of enjoying some drinks on the deck and finishing the evening with SingStar. The picture below is of Dan and I playing SingStar:
The next morning we had to get up at a respectable time to skype our Dads for Father’s Day in New Zealand. For the remainder of the day we stayed at the Gite (apart from the mandatory visit to Shoppi to restock on cheese, paté and wine) and enjoyed the sun, swimming pool and tennis court.
The next day we headed out for breakfast at the weekly market in the next door village, Duras. The market was great with lots of cheese, produce, wine and friendly and entertaining characters. The photos below are of Duras, the entry to the market, a produce stall, Tom with our 10L cask of wine (which wasn’t actually bad), some stalls, a large truck full of tomatoes and the group enjoying coffee, pain au chocolat, and croissants:
From Duras we headed along the Dordogne river stopping off in Bergerac (of Cyrano de Bergerac fame) where we had lunch. That evening we had a delicious spaghetti bolognaise prepared by Tom and Shaun and managed to polish off the 10L cask of wine purchased earlier that day. The pictures below are of the Dordogne river, the group trying to spell ‘Bordeaux’ with their shadows, a delicious treat from a patisserie, Bergerac and Shaun and Tom preparing dinner:
Entirely due to the wine consumed the night before, we all had a late start the next day. We spent the best part of the afternoon relaxing at the Gite and played numerous games of boules (newly purchased in Bergerac). The pictures below are of the group playing boules:
The next day we decided to make up for the previous day's lack of activity and head out to a vineyard. We decided to visit one in the Graves region; Dan and Jo’s last name is Graves. After a quick internet search we headed off to find Chateau de la Grave. Even with TomTom this proved to be particularly challenging; though after several phonecalls and many wrong turns we found the winery and were greeted with the view below:
After parking up and having a much needed bathroom break we started our cellar tour. The tour was fantastic, we were taken through the entire production area, cellar, bottling line and finished in the cellar shop. Here we were given a free tasting session by one of the owners of the vineyard. Visiting the vineyard was one of the highlights of the trip, the hospitality of everybody there was amazing and the wine was delicious. Everybody left with at least a couple of bottles (some more!) and some great memories; our bottles are sitting in their wooden box under our stairs awaiting an appropriate occasion to drink them. The pictures below are of the vines, me sheltering from a passing shower, the vats, the cellar and the bottling line:
That evening we headed into Monségur for a meal at the local fair in the town square. This was a lot of fun; I think most of Monségur was out eating, drinking and dancing. The pictures below give you an idea of what it was about: the square at the start of the evening, Diana and her mussels, the band, our table, the mussel stall, a view of the square in the evening and our group walking home. It was great way to end a great day:
After waking up with the sun shining we decided to spend the day at the house and relax. The picture below is where we had all our meals at the house (lunch in this case) and of the view from our bathroom window:
The next day we decided to head for the Atlantic coast to the beach. En route we found Europe’s largest sand dune so made a small detour to la Dune du Pilat. The pictures below are of Tom and the, now famous, Captain's hat (see next blog), the dune, walking up the hard way, the group at the top, Di and the dune, and everyone running back down to the bottom again:
From the dune we headed to the beach at Biscarrosse Plage. The photos below are of us at the beach: the beach, a game of boules and a funny sign. That evening we enjoyed our final dinner in the house and tried - unsuccessfully - to make pumpkin soup:
After packing up and enjoying a champagne breakfast (courtesy of our frinds at Chateau de la Grave) we locked the house for the final time and headed into Bordeaux before our afternoon flight. The pictures below sum up our morning in Bordeaux: a square, a university group enjoying orientation week, the girls with two of the Uni students and the captain enjoying a final coffee:
This is a trip Di and I would repeat in a heartbeat. The house, food, wine and company were all amazing and something we will always remember fondly.